Principled, dedicated, and full of it

I admire and respect Senator Bernie Sanders. He’s one of those few politicians who says
what he means, and acts on it. President Obama, for example, pays lip service to free enterprise while working to undermine it; Bernie, on the other hand, says he’s against free enterprise, and he votes that way.

Having said that, I disagree with almost every single word that comes out of Sen. Sanders’ mouth when it comes to his policy positions; I think his ideas are ill-conceived and destructive in the extreme. I subscribe to his e-mail updates just so I have insight into how ultra-liberal policies are put forth and supported.

These updates provide many policy prescriptions for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and bolstering the middle class. Sen. Sanders proposes we accomplish these goals through several measures, none of which has a snowball’s chance in Arabia of working. Here is some of what he says, along with fulminations:

Trade policy must also be revamped to bolster the nation’s ailing manufacturing sector. “If American corporations want Americans to buy their products, the companies should be making their products here – not in China,” Sanders said.

This is a stunningly ignorant statement. If Americans wanted American products, then that’s what they’d be buying, and everything would still be made here. What Americans actually want is to be able to afford things that make their lives better, regardless of where they’re made. Since almost anything can be made more cheaply in developing nations, many retailers buy their wares from overseas, to meet their customers’ demands.

And let’s not neglect the fact that those who benefit from this the most are those who don’t make a lot of money. Almost everything in Wal-Mart and other discount retailers is made in China, and people who don’t have lots of money are therefore able to buy things they never would be able to afford if everything were made in America.

In effect, Sen. Sanders is advocating that folks who don’t make a lot of money should just go without the things that these corporations allow them to afford.

To reverse the trend, [Sen. Sanders] is pushing for fair trade, not unfettered free trade that creates an incentive for American companies to shutter U.S. manufacturing facilities and move jobs overseas.

Yes, let’s talk about that “shipping jobs overseas” mantra that keeps coming from Sen. Sanders and other union-backed politicians. The contention that U.S. tax code and trade laws encourage companies to shutter their factories, open up shop in developing countries, make stuff on the cheap, and sell it back to us is simply wrong. Close to 90 percent of the goods and services produced by U.S.-owned overseas affiliates are sold to customers in those host countries, or in countries other than the U.S. Even in Mexico and China, two of organized labor’s biggest villains when it comes to cheap labor “flooding” the U.S. market with inexpensive goods, the U.S. market amounts to only 17 percent of sales of U.S. affiliates there.

And when it comes to job-creation, a study tracking employment numbers of U.S. multinational companies shows that as employment numbers of U.S. overseas affiliates grows, employment of the U.S. parent companies grows along with it.

And finally, this paragraph from a Cato Institute study slams a few more nails into the coffin that holds Sen. Sanders’s dead ideas:

“Between 2003 and 2007, U.S. manufacturing companies sent an average of $2 billion a year in direct investment to China and $1.9 billion to Mexico. That pales in comparison to the average $22 billion a year in direct manufacturing investment ‘shipped’ to Europe during that same period, but talking about equipment being unbolted from the floors of U.S. factories and shipped to England just doesn’t have the same bite. The modest annual outflow in investment to China and Mexico is positively dwarfed by the annual $59 billion inflow of manufacturing investment to the United States from abroad during those same years and the average of $165 billion per year that U.S. manufacturers invested domestically in plant and equipment.”

The most annual openings in Vermont through 2018 will be for cashiers, home care aides and retail sales, according to Labor Department projections. The problem: the median income for those three fields is $18,730, $21,130 and $22,840, respectively. “The situation today is ominous,” Sanders said, referring to the continued slide of manufacturing and the erosion of the middle class.

Now hold on just a second. Sen Sanders’s liberal pals who run the Vermont legislature are the ones who designed this state for these types of jobs. Their progressive dream is to maintain the state as a worker’s paradise of generous benefits, environmental purity and natural splendor amid the other vile states that have sold their souls to manufacturing and industry.

They have implemented their vision by ensuring that development is far more difficult than in other states, and employees are far more expensive to hire and keep than in other states. And yes, we are a tourist destination par excellence.

The tradeoff is that there are fewer jobs available to new graduates, so Vermonters’ kids must leave to find employment, so the state continues to get demographically older. That explains the home care aides Sanders cites.

And, when your economy relies heavily on tourism, cashiers and retail sales jobs are in abundance.

So the legislature has lost us industry to other states, which encourages recent grads to leave, and made us a tourist haven with no unsightly billboards or smokestacks. And now their patron saint of liberalism points to the results, and calls it a reason for yet more government-directed wisdom.

Does anyone really expect that a cabal of lobbyist-lubricated lawyers in Congress can have a handle on the billions of transactions that take place every day among the citizenry?

Here’s a crazy idea: why not reduce regulations, reduce taxation, and let people and businesses choose how to allocate their own resources, let consumers choose what makes the most sense for themselves and their families, and thereby unlock the people’s ingenuity instead of falling prey to the impossibly far-fetched notion that legislators have all the answers?

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About Jamal Kheiry

Public relations consultant with experience in domestic and international journalism and public relations. At it since 1995.
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